France is an active traveler's dream, with sandy beaches in the north, the towering Alps in the southeast, several river valleys across its heartland, and a rocky southern coastline dotted with inlets, caves, and coves. You can easily spend your time cycling through vineyards and from one chateau to another, riding horses in the surf, kayaking the famous Calanques, and hiking in the mountains. Or, if you're more of a city person, add a bike tour or vineyard stroll to your exploration of hubs like Paris.

Getting Oriented

Canoeing in French rivers.

With a diverse landscape, France offers several active experiences throughout the country. In the north, you'll find the sandy beaches along the English Channel. In central France, several river valleys and national parks with excellent cycling routes stretch across the heartland. Head southeast for skiing or trekking in the famous Alps or try watersports in the French Riviera and southwest to climb sand dunes. Even in the cities, you can add a bike tour or walk through the neighboring vineyards to your plan, especially in cities like Paris, Lyon, or Bordeaux

Many visitors choose France for this natural diversity. The country is particularly popular for cycling excursions in the valleys and islands like Corsica and skiing and trekking in the French Alps. And if you have your heart set on a winter vacation, choose excursions in the south, where the weather offers outdoor opportunities year-round

Biking & Hiking

If you enjoy biking or hiking, France offers unique experiences you can't enjoy anywhere else in the world. Cycle from chateau to chateau, conquer the famous peaks of the French Alps, or see the highlights of iconic cities on two wheels. 

Cycle & Hot Air Balloon at Château de Chenonceau

See Château de Chenonceau from your bike and the air.

Spend the day cycling through the Loire Valley, biking to one of its famed chateaus! Enjoy the smooth Loire à Velo paths as you make your way to the Château de Chenonceau, known as the "Ladies Castle," as it was built and perfected by several women over the centuries. After touring the mansion (the second-most visited chateau in France after Versailles), enjoy a hot air balloon ride over the grounds. Read More

Hike to Lac Blanc in the French Alps

Hike up to Lake Blanc in the French Alps.

Enjoy a full day trekking in the Chamonix region of the French Alps, with a moderate hike to the gorgeous Lac Blanc (Lake Blanc). This trail offers panoramic views of the Alps as you make your way up to 7,760 feet (over 2,300 m) above sea level. You'll start in the village of Les Praz, which gives you the option of using the Flegere gondola for a quick start! Enjoy a picnic lunch at the top of the lake, then head back down to the gondola station. Read More 

Bike Tour of Paris

See the sites of Paris on two wheels.

See some of the sites of Paris on two wheels with a bike tour through Le Marais, l'Ile de la Cité, and Ile St.Louis in the 4th arrondissement. Along the way, you'll enjoy cycling through the buzzy and trendy streets of the city, stopping to admire sites like The Centre Pompidou, Place des Vosges, Sainte-Chapelle, and Notre Dame. You'll also hear the scandals behind the Buren Columns and the Louvre Pyramid and stop at a delicious cafe at one of the oldest covered markets in the city. Read More

Plan your trip to France
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Coastal Adventures

Although the country's south, particularly the French Riviera, gets the most attention for coastline adventures, France's north and southwest offer undeniably gorgeous stretches of sand.

Climb Dune du Pilat

Climb the Dune du Pilat for gorgeous views over the sea.

Europe's highest sand dune sits in southwest France just outside of Bordeaux in the coastal city of Arcachon. At about 350 feet (106 m) high, the Dune du Pilat stretches 1.5 miles (2.7 km) from one end to the other. To reach its highest point, start with a scenic walk through the area's dense pine forest. You'll then reach the stairs that take you to the top of the dune, where you'll enjoy views of the beach, ocean, and forest all around you. Read More

Kayaking in Calanques National Park

Kayak along the scenic Calanques (inlets) of the French Riviera.

The French Riviera is known for many things, including its picturesque Calanques National Park. Enjoy a kayaking excursion around the inlets, known as calanques, a natural treasure along France's southern coast. Glide through crystal-clear waters and near limestone cliffs, making stops to rest or swim away from the crowds. End the experience with lunch in the quaint coastal town of Cassis. Read More

Horseback Riding at Mont Saint Michel

Ride in the surf at Mont Saint Michel.

Enjoy a unique memory by riding horses in the surf near Mont Saint Michel, a small island topped with an 8th-century abbey. After getting acquainted with your horse and gear, you'll start the trek out into the shallow water, which naturally surrounds the island at high tide. As you ride, enjoy the incredible scenery and listen to stories about the abbey's history, which was used as a prison during the French Revolution. Read More

How to Craft the Perfect Active Itinerary in France

Exploring Calanques National Park.

If you're an active traveler looking for adventures in France, you have your pick of French regions. Stick to the north for coastal walks or long stretches of misty beach. Stay central for river valleys and cycling paths, and head east for towering mountain peaks. Finally, focus on the south for coastal adventures like climbing sand dunes, kayaking, sailing, and exploring gorges. Truly, every corner of France offers fun, active excursions. 

When determining how much time to spend in France, remember that an active trip usually requires a few extra days. It takes time to load up your gear or make your way to trails, plus you'll want a few days to recover any sore muscles. For an active trip, give yourself at least one week in France. If you'd like to criss-cross the country or explore a larger region, plan for two weeks

Past kimkim travelers have enjoyed the following itineraries that include active experiences in France: